– The world’s largest automotive component show was hosted in Gauteng from 8 – 11 May and attracted over 600 exhibitors and 10 000 visitors. Thegandra shares some of the key highlights and insights.
Thegandra Naidoo in conversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
…on the road with Merc’s CLS 250 and CLS 63 AMG
The first thing you notice about the CLS is that it not very Mercedes-like. It breaks the conservative styling mold and it certainly grows on you. The more I look at it, the more I learn to appreciate it. It is positioned between the E- and S-Class and provides a good mix of performance, styling and comfort.
The standard CLS 250 CDI handles well, plenty of standard comfort features, refined, constructed from quality materials, soft touch materials, everything falls to hand.
- STD CLS 250 CDI – 2.1L, 4-cylinder, 150kW and 500Nm. 0-100kph in 7.5 sec and top speed of 242kph.
- Fuel economy – 5.3-litres/100km combined, really frugal on extra-urban cycle – 4.5-litres/100km
- STD CLS 63 AMG – 5.5L, V8, 386kW and 700Nm. 0-100kph in 4.4 sec and top speed of 250kph.
- 9.9-litres/100km combined – not too shabby for a performance vehicle!
- You comparing one that goes really far and the other that goes really quick.
- AMG Performance Package sets you back another R82 500. Increases the power by 24kW and 100Nm, and adds the bigger ceramic brakes etched in red.
- AMG Drivers Package takes top speed to 300kph, drops 0-100kph time by 0.1 sec. will set you back R34 000.
- AMG is the performance-tuning arm of MB – the equivalent of the M-division to BMW and RS to Audi. Very specialised – Each AMG engine is hand built and it bears the name of the engineer on the engine cover. Built in Affalterbach in Germany.
- CLS 63 is a really brutal beast. Packs some serious muscle under the bonnet. Fitted with twin turbochargers. Designed to take on the likes of the BMW M5 and Jaguar XFR and possibly the next generation Audi RS6. Very powerful. Gets off the line like a screaming banshee. Yet, remains very sedate in ECO mode. Has Start-Stop Technology to save fuel. Can be driven like a mum’s taxi and turned into a ballistic missile in a second.
- Activate SPORT mode – electronics change adjusts the entire drive and feel – revs harder, boost higher, suspension stiffens up – this becomes a “Dancing Queen”. In the wrong hands, it is a lethal weapon. Tends to step out under hard acceleration.
- Sprints to 100kph in under 5 seconds with ease, has a deep thrum from the exhaust. Massive brakes, cooled by an intercooler.
- Has an MCT 7-spd gearbox – race mode can be activated to dial in launch control. Changes gears at the flick of button – very responsive. Very forgiving but not as brute in gear shifts as the DCT box of the M5.
- Can roast ludicrous burnouts, has tarmac-shredding power.
- Has AMG Ride control to change suspension from comfort to sport and sports plus.
- Targeted at the exec businessmen, who wants a family car that he can drive fast and still remain safe.
- Has all the driving dynamics and wizardry that a person could ever think about.
- Distronic – brakes and accelerates on its own, airbags all around, traction control is like a nanny which takes over when the vehicle brakes traction – aids to stabilise and control the vehicle
- Boyracers will think twice about playing around with this AMG.
- Sporty interior has a chunky steering wheel. Nicely weighted and easy to turn.
- Concoction and blend of the finest sporty goods that one could add to a vehicle…analogue clock, AMG side sills, sports pedals.
- Mind blogging and scary to think that it could travel at over 300kph. Electronic buffer keeps speed in check.
- At over R1.5m for model tested, it’s not the car that will be driven by every person. Very niche model car – only built on request to customer’s specification.
- Technology is a cut above the rest. This is a real driver’s car. I would have one parked in my garage any day.
This is the ultimate Mercedes-Benz!
Technology: Tyre markings can save your life
While cheap import tyres have become a huge risk in recent years, various tyre manufacturers caution motorists against the fitment of incorrectly specified tyres to a vehicle just for the purpose of fitting a tyre.
I recently embarked on an exercise to fit new tyres to my old BMW. I headed to a reputable tyre fitment centre and opted to fit Firestone Firehawk TZ200 tyres in size 205/55 R16 because it fitted my budget. However, the tyre salesman advised me against fitting the Firehawk TZ200. He recommended the Bridgestone Turanza ER300 tyres, which at first, seemed like a scheme to get me to buy more expensive tyres.
However, the salesman’s explanation was valid, and I had to admit, that even with nearly a decade’s experience as a motoring scribe, I was uninformed about tyre sizes, speed ratings and load index. The salesman explained that while the width, height and diameter of the tyres were seemingly correct,
- The Turanza was better suited in terms of tread wear, traction and temperature ratings, as well as speed ratings and load index.
- The tread design on Turanza for far better suited for water displacement and handling for the type of vehicle.
Like myself, there are thousands of motorists out there driving around in cars with tyres that are incorrectly specified tyres for the vehicle’s operation. Tyres carry a wealth of information on their sidewalls; unfortunately, it’s all in code, and most of it is of no concern to motorists.
I took up the challenge to better understand a tyre and quickly discovered that the sidewall markings on a tyre aren’t only used as a reference to a manufacturer, but also serve as specification for just about any of vehicle – whether it be on an old Beetle, or a high performance car such as a Lamborghini.
Sidewall markings are the most important information given on a tyre. The particular tyres fitted to my vehicle had the following sidewall markings: 205/55 R16 91W.
205/55 R16 91W
Nominal Section Width: expressed in millimetres – 205mm
Aspect Ratio: the height of the sidewall expressed as a percentage of the Nominal Section Width: 55
R = Radial Construction
Rim Diameter: expressed in inches – 16
Load Index: the load carrying capacity at maximum inflation: 91 (This tyre has a 615kg load carrying capacity)
Speed Symbol: indicates the maximum speed capability of the tyre – W (This tyre can operate at up to 270kph)
*Load Index and Speed Symbol charts are available on Bridgestone South Africa’s website.
Tyres also contain valuable information such as the tread wear, traction and temperature ratings. This information is essential because it can play a pivotal role in a vehicle’s handling capabilities and can prevent blowouts at high speeds.
Tyres also contain a “birth date” which indicates the week and year of manufacture. An example includes “1612”, found on my Turanza ER300s. This means that the tyre in question was manufactured in the 16th week of 2012. This plays a huge role because the tyre’s compound changes due to age. Bridgestone recommends that a tyre is replaced every five to seven years, regardless of wear.
If you are unsure about the correct tyre specifications for your vehicle, you can find the details on a sticker on the door sill on the driver’s side of a vehicle, or the vehicle owner’s manual. Reputable tyre fitment centres will best advise you as well.
Thegandra Naidoo? A motoring journalist. He has a decade’s experience in the automotive industry and is best known for his technical knowledge of cars. He has worked on various local television productions and co-presented a motoring feature on Kaya FM a few years back. He currently holds the position as Features & Online Editor for Automotive Business Review. He is currently completing a mid-career Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thegandra is a FULL member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.